May 8th, 2015


The analog ideal and the digital real

There’s an underlying issue that’s been bugging me on the digital vs. analog stuff I’ve seen off and on for some time. So on Facebook, I tried to lay out some of my thoughts.

Specifically, what bugs me about some of the digital poo-poohing I see is the gap between the ideal and the real. And I see this on digital media, of course, because people don’t seem to actually use their exalted medium of choice to deliver digital condemnation—they’re peeing in the pool while complaining about water quality. If folks were invested in their analog ideal to a level that might fulfill its promise, awesome. But most of our real selves aren’t willing or able to do so, and it’s our real selves who actually have relationships.

So the “rewards” of the analog ideal can often amount to:
  1. Disengagement from the things we (can) really, actually do.

  2. Guilt for not measuring up to our own analog ideal (unless we happen to be awesome letter writers, or what have you).

I also hear a lot of criticism of technology making people more “absent,” and I have my own anecdotes which agree with this. Regrettably, though, I find a lot of folks who extol an analog ideal to be very absent in my life. My mailbox isn’t stuffed with their thoughtful letters, and my calendar (perhaps because it’s digital) isn’t bursting with laugher-filled evenings outside, with good food and good drink at long wooden tables with round white lightbulbs strewn overhead. By and large, this simply isn’t a way people are really showing up in my life, or I in theirs.

I met barlow_girl here on LiveJournal many years ago, so the effects of connecting digitally have been far from negligible in my life. Mileage varies. I suppose I’m just suggesting that trading one illusion for another doesn’t help, so an honestly examined life (digital, analog, or hybrid) is, in my view, the best option.